Christmas Tress Growing at Tree Farm

Christmas Tree Care and Safety

Updated November 3, 2020 . AmFam Team

Nothing says Christmas like picking out the perfect tree. Use this guide to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Christmas tree this season.

Hanging up ornaments and decorating the Christmas tree with your family is a wonderful holiday tradition, and nothing beats doing so on the perfect tree. There’s a lot to consider though, as you’ll not only have to find your perfect tree, but also take care of it to make sure it lasts through the holidays. Use this quick guide to help you find, and take care of, the best tree in town.

How to Pick Out the Best Christmas Tree

If you and your family want a real Christmas tree, rather than an artificial one, head out to your local tree farm. Once you’ve spotted a tree that’s caught your eye, here’s how to determine if it’s sturdy and will stay healthy. Remember, while you’re hunting for the perfect tree this year, be sure to keep social distancing in mind and wear your face mask where appropriate.

Choose a quality type

There are many different types of real Christmas trees you can choose from. These popular options are typically sturdy and will survive through the holidays.

  • Douglas fir
  • Fraser fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Colorado blue spruce
  • Scotch pine

Colorado blue spruce and scotch pine trees are beautiful, but they have sharp needles. For the safety of your kids, you may want to consider choosing a fir tree.

Check its color

When Christmas tree shopping, the greener the better. If the tree is a rich green color, it’s healthy. If it’s a duller, more grey-green color, keep looking.

Gently shake the tree

Hold your Christmas tree candidate firmly and give it a gentle shake. Losing a few brown needles is common, but falling green needles means the tree is too dry.

Test its strength

Healthy Christmas tree needles should be flexible, but snap when bent in half. If the tree’s needles are turning brown and crumble easily, it’s best to keep searching.

Transport it safely

Be sure your car can safely transport your tree back to your home. Bring rope or bungee cords to make sure the tree is tied down securely.

How to Care for Your Christmas Tree at Home

When you get home, keep the tree in your garage or on the porch until you’re ready to bring it inside. An unheated, sheltered area will protect your tree from the elements. When you’re ready to bring your Christmas tree inside, follow these steps to keep it healthy.

Make the cut

Once you get the tree home, cut a half-inch piece off of the bottom — it’ll help your tree drink the water it needs.

Avoid heat

Scout the best location in your home for your tree — that means staying away from any heating vents, fireplaces, or wood stoves. Areas like these may be fire hazards, and can cause your tree to dry out sooner than later.

Set up the tree

Once you’ve found the perfect place for it, place your fresh-cut Christmas tree on a tree stand and secure it in place. You may want to cover your floor with a tarp during this process in case needles shake free from the tree.

Water frequently

Your tree needs a lot of water to keep it looking beautiful all season long — usually between one quart and one gallon each day. Regularly watering your tree will prevent it from drying out and the needles from dropping off. If your tree goes too long without being watered, it may form a seal of dried sap at the stump. If this happens, cut another half-inch piece off the bottom.

Safely decorate

Now you’re all set to decorate the Christmas tree with your family. If you have younger kids, use smaller, plastic ornaments or soft decorations like garland. Large ornaments or decorations made of glass can break and become a safety hazard.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

If your tree is regularly kept in water, it is unlikely to be a fire hazard due to the moisture it contains. However, it’s still important to exercise caution and prevent house fires as much as possible. Here’s how you can keep your home and Christmas tree safe.

  • Set a reminder on your phone to regularly water your tree to prevent it from drying out
  • Use low-heat Christmas tree lights and throw out lights that are frayed or worn
  • Avoid lighting candles in the same room as the tree and never use them to decorate the tree
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits by cluttering a single outlet with too many festive decorations
  • Keep the use of power strips and extension cords to a minimum, and make sure your cords are properly rated for use
  • Turn off the Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving your home

Dispose of your tree safely

Once your tree starts dropping needles, it’s time to remove it — especially since dry trees become more flammable as they age. Here’s how to safely dispose of your Christmas tree and optionally recycle it.

Now that you know how to find and care for your Christmas tree, get out there and choose the perfect one with your family. Have fun, be safe and go make some new holiday memories.

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